Browsing Category Family

Sunday Prep: 5 Steps To A Smoother Week

Sunday Prep: 5 Steps to a Smoother Week

“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”


I adore that quote and as a mom I live by it. In my book, Sundays are meant to relax as a family and get ready for the busy week ahead. Here are my Sunday Prep tips to have a smoother week.


Sunday Prep: 5 Steps to a Smoother Week


Sunday Prep: 5 Steps to a Smoother Week

Pick out clothes for the week: Every Sunday the Smalls and I pick out 5 outfits for the week. We take into consideration the weather and PE days as they select their clothes for the week, all the way down to underpants, socks, shoes, and hair accessories. We hang each outfit on a hanger and hang them in each of their closets in order from left to right. Then each morning they can quickly get dressed on their own. It’s a huge time saver and helps reduce arguments over what to wear since they do not wear uniforms to school.


Sunday Prep: Picking out clothes for the week

Sunday Prep: Picking out clothes for the week


I do the same for myself. I set out 5 workout outfits and regular outfits for the week. Some days don’t require both, so they carry over to the next week. I’m not nearly as detailed in my own attire as the kids, but I do cover the basic outfit components which saves me from my indecisiveness in the morning hours.


Sunday Prep: Workout clothes for the week


Meal Plan and Prep: I usually meal plan on Wednesday when the new grocery store sales begin. Then I begin making our list and our online grocery order (This has saved me so much time and money. No impulse purchases and I can add to it during the week as we run out of things or special requests.)

Sundays are spent prepping hard boiled eggs, quinoa, chicken, cutting up fruits and veggies to be used during the week. I also take into account what our evenings look like with sports and other events. I premake  3 or 4 lunches for my husband and I, otherwise we make poor food choices, skip meals or go out to eat.


Sunday Prep: Meal Prep


Backpack Check: Since we have 2 in school, there are always papers to be signed, things to be returned, library books, and on and on. We go through their binders on Friday after school and I try to sign everything, take out their reusable snack bags so they can be washed and put away/throw away all of the worksheets and artwork that comes home. If I don’t deal with it immediately it starts to pile up.

Sunday night we make sure all library books are in the backpack and they pick out 5 snacks to take for the week. We put Monday’s snack in their backpack so the only thing they have to add in the mornings are their lunchboxes.


Sunday Prep: Backpacks ready


Planner Update: I’m a total planner nerd! I love a pretty planner and this year I am LOVING the Hourly Week Layout of my Erin Condren LifePlanner – save $10 on your own planner here. Since we have many appointments, business meetings, training calls, practices, birthday parties, classroom responsibilities, and travel commitments between 5 people, having an hourly breakdown has helped me keep things orderly and on track.

On Sunday, I fill in the details of our week and make sure we are all on the same page. I transfer important reminders for the following week, put my top 3 must do’s in the margins and pretty it up with some cute stickers. It takes 15 minutes and I enjoy it.


Sunday Prep: Planner updates for the week
Save $10 on your own Erin Condren LifePlanner

Sunday Prep: Planner Update


Plan Workouts: The only way I have been able to stick with exercising over the last year is my planning for my workouts. If you don’t know about my love for TIU now you can read more about it here. One of my favorite things is that they put together a weekly schedule and give a few options.

The new schedule is released every Sunday. I check it out and then look at my own schedule and commitments for the week. I follow as closely to their published schedule as possible, it’s easier that way. I select the quicker workouts on my busier days and make any adjustments to classes or runs depending on the weather (I loathe the treadmill, so I try to avoid it as much as I can.). By setting up my workout schedule, I am less likely to skip a workout or get stuck in a rut of doing the same workouts.


Sunday Prep: 5 Steps to a Smoother Week


With a little bit of prep and planning our week runs so much smoother. I am not at all a morning person (working on it), so getting up and going before my tiny human alarm clocks doesn’t happen often. Having things set up for smooth mornings has been key to not running around like a crazy person before school. Knowing everyone has what the need to have a successful week makes life much easier on all of us.


Hope these tips can help you too! Please share with anyone that could use a smoother start to their week!





Project 365 Smalls: January Photo A Day Challenge

Project 365 Smalls: A Photo A Day Challenge January

I did it!! I successfully completed the first month of my Project 365 Smalls: photo a day challenge. Taking one photo of each kid EVERY SINGLE DAY in the month of January. It wasn’t exactly hard, but there were some days that I remembered right at bedtime – note sleeping and/or pajama clad children.


Week 1: We were getting into our groove of taking a photo a day. The Smalls were still on Winter Break, so I had all day to snap a photo. We were getting ready to go back to school, so they needed haircuts. And the only way to entertain the littlest one during those haircuts was to feed her, notice those chipmunk cheeks! Holliday started giving hugs this week and I was able to catch that sweet moment with her brother! We did a packing night at NourishNC, a local organization that helps feed hungry children in our area. I love that they willing to have the Smalls help and the Smalls enjoy doing it and can’t wait to go back.


Project 365 Smalls - A photo a day challenge


Week 2: Our last few days of Winter Break, we enjoyed lazy movie days and playing at home. Gray went to a sleepover. Back to school and our regular routine. Holliday certainly missed them those first few days, she kept checking their rooms. She kept herself busy with many games of Peek-A-Boo and playing with all their toys.


Project 365 Smalls - A Photo a Day Challenge


Week 3: This week it was Noble’s turn for a movie and a sleepover. While he was gone, Gray and I had a spa night. Holliday has been getting into everything!! Welcome to toddlerhood where everything is a challenge. Football ruled our weekend. Gray and I were disappointed our Steelers didn’t make it to the Championship and Noble was bummed Green Bay didn’t get there either.


Project 365 Smalls - A Photo A Day Challenge


Week 4: This was the week I was reminded how fast they are growing up. Another sleepover for Gray, Birthday party for Noble and Preschool registration for Holliday!! Noble learned how to tie his shoes. Gray and I had a great girls day, she really is a little lady and a pleasure to take out. I need to be better about taking the older two out on special adventures more regularly. We enjoyed a few days of warm January weather with lots of time outside.


Project 365 Smalls - A Photo A Day Challenge


Week 5: January went by really fast. The last week was pretty normal, thankfully we were able to stay outside a lot. Noble helped rake leaves… and was actually a big help! Holliday figured out how to climb onto the Lego table, much to the dislike of her brother. And we enjoyed a weekend without any plans!! Which happens so rarely, we were able to have lots of family time and enjoy the amazing weather.


Project 365 Smalls - A Photo A Day Challenge


One month down…11 to go!! I am really enjoying capturing these moments and can’t wait to see what the finished project looks like. It’s not too late to join me and challenge yourself to a photo a day in February (it’s the shortest month, so why not give it a try) use #365smalls to let me know you are in!

Project 365 Smalls: A Photo A Day Challenge January





Project 365 Smalls: A Photo A Day Challenge

Project 365 Smalls: A photo a day challenge.

I love a beautiful photograph, there is something so special about catching a fleeting moment for all time. I love the looking at all the photos of my childhood. They contain a lot of memories and my favorite people. I love teaching my kids their family tree through photos. But I am awful about taking pictures of my own family. And that needs to change. So, I am challenging myself this year.


Each year I look forward to having our family photos taken. I try to have them taken at the end of Summer each year. My smalls are Summer babies (September still feels like summer here in NC) so I love capturing them as they turn another year older. This year we chose to have them taken at the beach, a first for us even though we have lived here for 10 years. And they turned out better than I could have imagined!


Out takes make some of the best family photos
My favorite from the whole session. It’s their personalities in a picture.
Pretty baby on the sand
I’d like to hit the pause button right here!
The girl who owns the world
I love everything about this picture!
Kissing couple at the beach
One of the few photos of just the two of us <3


I know everyone is tired of seeing perfectly posed family photos posted all over Fakebook Facebook, but I love seeing everyone coordinated, smiling, being silly or even pouting. I also love them because the whole family, including Mom, are in the picture. We all know it’s not how everyday looks, we all have our own mess. And as much as I enjoy the “real” pics of day to day life I appreciate the effort and the beauty of my friend’s family photos. So keep them coming!!


Every parent knows what it took to get that one great “everyone is looking at the camera, most of us are smiling, no one is blinking/sneezing/hitting/yelling” shot. The picking out of the “right” outfits that coordinate enough without being matchy-matchy and went just right with the location. I’m sure someone was making crazy noises to keep the kids attention, there may have even been a bribe or two to get a toddler to sit still… and the magic of it all, a great photographer.


Family Beach Photos
As close to perfect as we will ever get!

One that can capture that precious moment in time, a split second of beauty in all the chaos. A moment that you will want to look back on and cherish the time when your kids were those ages because by then the trauma of the day-to-day struggles will have worn off.


Luckily we found an outstanding photographer, who was able to capture the personalities of our family.  If only she could follow my family everyday… but not in a weird paparazzi way.  And Mother Nature was finally on our side (after having to reschedule 3 times due to weather) and provided an amazing backdrop with a breathtaking sunset that I felt honored to witness.

Sibling fun
Beautiful sunset at the beach
The colors of the sky were breathtakingly beautiful.

I love photos, so why am I so terrible about taking them? I’m not even trying for amazing/good/decent, I just want to remember to take the dang photo in the moment! Not say to myself “that would’ve been a cute pic”!


I am serious. I have a handful (and that’s being generous) of photos during my 15 years with my husband. I have hundreds of photos of our first born, before she could move then they really drop off. My poor son, totally the middle child and will probably require therapy due to the lack of photos during his early years. And the baby… well she will be happy that cell phone technology advanced and the cloud existed during her life.


Inspired by Project 365, I am challenging myself to take a photo of each child, all 3 of them, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY of 2016! And wouldn’t you know it, the year I decide to do this… a leap year!! So 366 x 3 = 1098 photos!!

Project 365 Smalls: A photo a day challenge. Taking a picture of each kid everyday this year.

I can’t wait to see how it goes and what a treasure the final album will be! I’d love for you to join me in taking a photo a day. Any subject matter or combinations of subjects work. (I’m just focusing on my smalls, because I need to make up for the HUGE gaps in their baby books!) Share them with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #365smalls.


Follow along on Facebook to see my progress on Project 365 Smalls!

Photo A Day Challenge: Taking a photo of each child every of the year.



Oh, and if you are vacationing near the Cape Fear Region of North Carolina…I highly recommend Megan Hsu Photography!!


A Note

a note

There was a note. She did at least leave us that.

Were there answers? No. Just page after page of rambling rage. Her words cut me like a knife, wounds so deep they will never heal. Actually the lack of words specifically for me, hurt the most. Only her sister by blood… ouch.

I read that note at least 100 times in the days after. I was looking for more. More of her, more of a reason… I just needed more.

Then I stopped. Stopped torturing myself, stopped looking for answers from the words of a madwoman, stopped needing to hold onto the last thing she held onto. I put that note in envelope, put that envelope at the bottom box and put that box in my closet.

I know it’s there.

And every year on the anniversary of her death (I hate that we refer to it as an anniversary. As if I would want to celebrate.) I go into my closet, pull out the box, dig to the bottom and find the envelope that holds those precious papers that she last touched.

I allow myself to read her rage. To try and feel what she may have felt. To understand how she believed there was not another way. I have a good cry… a really good, ugly, need to take a shower because no amount of tissues will clean up this amount of tears cry.

Then I place that note back in the envelope, the envelope in the bottom of the box and the box back in the closet. Where it will remain for another year.

It is my last ritual with my sister. One I never imagined. But it is ours and I will continue to cherish it.

I will forever miss seeing your smiling face, Meg.

The aftermath of losing a loved one to suicide is messy. It never gets easier. There are never answers, only more questions.

But you are not alone, sadly there is a large community of people dealing with the same devastating loss. Find info and support here and here.

In crisis? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255. There is always hope and help is just a phone call away.



1 Comment

Try it, you might like it!

I say this almost as much as I say "no"!

How many times have you said this to your kids? I have said this a countless number of times in my 8 plus years as a mom. I have encouraged them to try new foods, new sports, new classes and new experiences. Sometimes it is met with compliance, but more often with a hard and fast “NO!!”. Then the negotiating begins, sometimes that works. I have even resorted to bribery on occasion for my creatures of habit – come on, haven’t we all? What is it about the new and unknown that makes us shut down and refuse to consider that we may, in fact, like this new thing?

I know where they get it from… me. (Well not the food part! I love trying new foods.) I’m 100% a creature of habit. I like my routine and scheduled days. My first reaction to new things is usually no and to think of all the possible negative effects of said new thing. I wasn’t always like this. I think it stems from my attempt to control everything in my adult life. To have as many constants in place as possible, limiting the variables and preparing for all worst case scenarios. Because in my life, the worst has happened… the other shoe has dropped and that feeling of having no control is one of the worst feelings in the world.

My dad died very suddenly, without any warning of a massive cerebral hemorrhage three days after Christmas, almost 12 years ago. And my sister, who was 14 at the time, and I found him. Life changing doesn’t even begin to cover it. I found comfort in the the things I could control, the things I could do. The logistics became my comfort zone. More planning and paperwork, less feeling the devastating blow our family had just taken. This event changed the course of my life. It made me very aware of how short life really is. Before my father’s death I had no plans for having children and shortly after that was the farthest thing from my mind. He would never meet them, never know them and even worse… they would never know him.

Something changed a few years after his death, as the size of my extended family took a nosedive, I realized for the first time that I wanted my own big crazy family. Eight years ago my daughter, who was named in honor of my dad, literally brought life back to my little family. She brought so much joy and happiness to all of us. He would have adored her, and she him. But all of her milestones were bittersweet, as we could not share them with him. A few years later, the boy he had always dreamed of was born and as my son has grown he reminds me so much of my dad. He has his temper, the same mischievous look in his eye right before he does something he knows he shouldn’t, the exact same knees (if you knew my dad, you know what I’m talking about) and his love of fun. I have shared pictures and stories with them since they were born, even though its difficult. They ask tons of questions and talk about him often. We were getting on with life, happy with our little growing family and busy with life when the rug was pulled out from under me again.

Three short days after the 9 year anniversary of my father’s death, we received a phone call that no family should. My little sister, who was only 23, had committed suicide. She took a lethal dose of over-the-counter sleeping pills the day after the anniversary of my father’s death and it had taken the police 2 days to locate us in a different state. My sister and I had a complicated relationship, to say the least. She was 7 years younger, stubborn and struggling to manage her Bipolar Disorder. We were not speaking at the time of her death, I was going the tough love route with her… which may not have been what she needed. The amount of regret and what if’s will haunt me for the rest of my life. I always thought we would have time to mend our relationship. I imagined we would grow closer as she grew up and started to take responsibility for her actions. I’ve learned a lot about mental illness since her death and I regret not trying to learn more while she was alive and battling it everyday. I’ve heard so many stories from other survivors of suicide that mimic her struggle. The stigma that is attached to mental illness and suicide make it difficult for people to talk about. And that needs to change. I don’t blame my sister for taking her own life, it breaks my heart but I understand why she did it. In the year after her death, I felt paralyzed. I wanted to shut out the world and protect my family. I wanted to control everything around me and if I couldn’t control it, I would run from it. Not the best example for my children.

stigma-chalkboardSince my sister’s death, we added another sweet little girl to our family. She has brought such happiness to our whole family… not as a replacement, but a loving reminder that life goes on. I will never be an an aunt, nor will by kids ever have cousins from my side of the family, which is something I will always mourn. My dreams of what the future would hold have been rewritten.

It's time to change the way we think about mental illness.
It’s time to change the way we think about mental illness.

As I have slowly picked up the pieces and realized, once again, how short life is I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to lead by example and show my kids that life is meant to be lived. Getting out of your comfort zone, even though its scary, is the best part. And this blog is how I will document and hold myself accountable to trying new things. I can guarantee I will not like everything I try, but I just may surprise myself. As for the kids, they will continue to hear “try it, you might like it!” on a daily basis, because how how will you know unless you try?

I’d love to hear how you have stepped out of your comfort zone or an activity that you have always wanted to try. I’m always looking to add to my “Try it” list, so comment below and you may see your suggestion on the blog!!